Charleston is well documented as a world-class destination, regularly winning prestigious travel awards and even earning the title America’s Friendliest City. With all the accolades, it is a wonder why this town is relatively unknown in the fly-fishing world. The sheer variety and quality of things to see and do here in the Low Country make it exceptionally well-suited to the angler whose fellow travelers may not be inclined to spend every waking hour on the water. For these folks, there is enough history, culture, shopping and culinary adventures to afford you a day or two of chasing redfish in the waterways where many of the greatest battles in our nation’s history were waged. But don’t let your traveling partners stay landlocked. Charleston is an aquatic city, inundated by rivers, creeks and marshes. And while its compact downtown peninsula is the heart of the activity, you cannot fully appreciate Charleston without venturing out by boat to experience the soul of the Low Country.
About Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston is easy to get to and should be an easy sell to non-fishing companions or anyone who appreciates interesting history and rich culture. There are quite a few nonstop flights into Charleston’s small, friendly airport, and with Atlanta and North Carolina’s Charlotte both short hops away, flying in is quite easy. If you prefer to drive, Charleston is less than an hour from Interstate 95, so anywhere east of the Mississippi is manageable. Lodging and dining options abound in and around Charleston, and every travel style can be accommodated. There are numerous unique beach towns to stay and play in as well, and the whole area is littered with boat launches so you can fish close to wherever home may be during your stay.
There are plenty of guides around town; just make sure your guide is passionate about fly-fishing and has the boat, equipment and knowledge to put you on the fish.
Capt. Jeremy Mehlhaff: www.charlestonshallows.com
Lowcountry Fly Shop: www.lowcountryflyshop.com
Charleston Area Visitor Bureau: www.charlestoncvb.com
Tackle to Bring to Charleston, South Carolina
For the most part, redfish will be your main target when fishing Charleston. Seatrout, flounder and sheepshead are available all year while sharks, Spanish mackerel, bluefish and ladyfish are only summertime visitors inshore.
Rods and Reels: For nearly all situations, an 8-weight will get it done but throwing a 9-weight in the wind or a 7-weight on a super-slick calm day may can be advantageous. A big redfish can show you the backing and make your reel sing, but you don’t have to break the bank, as any decent medium- or large-arbor reel will work.
Lines: You will usually be fishing in skinny water, so a weight-forward floating line is all you will need. • Leaders: Use 9- to 12-foot leaders tapered to 12- to 20-pound fluorocarbon, depending on water clarity and the attitude of the fish.
Flies: Presentation is more important than fly choice, so I use patterns that land softly and have a lot of movement. I particularly like throwing small Toad patterns and EP Peanut Butter-style flies, and as in many other redfish destinations, it’s hard to go wrong with Clousers. Weedless flies are a must for fishing for tailers and can help when working around oysters and other obstacles.
License: If you are fishing with a licensed guide, you are covered; otherwise visit www.dnr.sc.gov /licensing.html.